Ideas that have been beaten to death

Recently I was browsing Product Hunt and I was aimlessly scrolling down to see if there are any interesting ideas.

I was seeing one recurring idea, popping up once in every few weeks. This is the same idea that I see popping up on HackerNews, ProductHunt, IndieHackers every single week. What is this idea? Another product to bookmark websites you visit.

This is one idea that I have seen people beaten to death and beyond. There are several such ideas that I come across every once in a while, but this is the most common one. If you look at all these products, you will see that

  • They are almost the same, one is no different from the other.
  • One does not provide any advantage over the other.
  • The only difference you will see is the UI and the workflow.

But still people continue to make them. And like most projects, most of them will go offline within the first few years.

So why people continue beat this idea to death?

  • Everyone has this itch, almost everyone who use the internet, including the creators at some point in their lives must have wanted a bookmarking application to save something they have come across the internet.
  • Bookmarking is broken in all browsers. From Chrome to FireFox no browser implements an easy to use bookmarking feature, which makes people go around looking for something which does booking marking better. Personally I feel this is the root cause for all these ideas.
  • There is no clear winner. Even though someone comes up with a bookmarking application every week, no one can tell a default bookmarking application from the back of their mind, such as Google for search or Instagram for photo sharing. There is no clear winner in bookmarking applications. So creators feel like they can create something that will dominate over everything else.
  • There is low barrier to entry. Anyone who can make a web app will be able to create a bookmarking application. Yes I have once created a Chrome extension on this idea, so that I learn how to create Chrome extensions.

The idea of bookmarking, or social bookmaking is not something new. From Delicious to StumbleUpon, to Digg to Pocket and finally a Y Combinator backed company Kippt all failed to capture the bookmarking space.

Have people who create a bookmarking application read about what happened to them? and why they didn’t work out?

So with so many big and small players trying to create something that everyone wanted at some point in their lives and still failing, means that there is something inherently wrong about this idea.

The hypothesis which I believe is the fact that, even though this is an itch people would have while browsing the internet, it’s not a big enough itch for them to use a bookmarking service or pay for such a service.

Another hypothesis would be

The market for such an app is so huge, there is no way one clear winner or one solution to fill such a big void.

Either way,

Even thinking about myself, even though I have wanted a bookmarking application, it always has been a one time thing, that comes along once in every few months and not something that I would want to use recurrently everyday.

But no matter what I’m sure people will continue to come up with a new bookmarking app once in every few weeks.

So in a summery, I feel people beat ideas to death without succeeding because.

  • They feel there is an itch in every user, but not a big enough itch to be solved by a solution
  • Low barrier to entry
  • There is a huge market for the idea, no matter how many products come up there will be enough room everyone, just because the void that has been created.
  • Finally there is no problem to be solved in the first place. And everyone is creating a solution in search of a problem.

What do you think? Write a comment below.